Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Fellow in the Humanities
2009—2010 Forum on Connections
Transnational Troubles, the Multicultural Myth, and United States' Public Cultures
My research investigates the impact of geo-political difference on intersectional identities in United States’ public cultures. Specifically, how is the fragile fiction of multicultural inclusion troubled by transnationalism? My project begins by questioning the stability of United States’ conceptions of race, ethnicity, sexuality, and class in cultural products that incorporate the global “other.” I focus on television programs, among them RuPaul’s Drag Race and Drawn Together, in order to foreground the domestication of geo-political difference in popular culture. From “African queens” wrapped in American flags to win pageant crowns to Pokémon knock-offs sewing NBA basketball shoes in a cartoon attic, these programs demonstrate that transnational figures often pay disproportionately for the multicultural myth through their labor and bodies. By making connections across disciplinary and cultural divides, I seek to demonstrate the processes and costs of the televisual naturalization of the global other.